Ahimsa. Living with kindness in body, mind and spirit

Ahimsa. Living with kindness in body, mind and spirit.

When we practice yoga with an authentic heart of love and humility, what naturally arises from within is our tendency to reflect our practice into our lifestyle. This is not to say that yoga practitioners should drastically change their life into whatever the imagined version of a yogi happens to be as fast as possible. This doesn’t generally end well!

Just as a yoga practice slowly evolves with patience by consistently finding ourselves humbly on the mat, our life naturally takes on a conscious evolutionally path. The flexibility, strength, balance, compassion, love, kindness, truthfulness, understanding, and forgiveness we share in yoga truly mirrors our daily lives!

We may realize in traffic we breathe and relax a bit, in place of shouting our favorite 4-letter words into closed glass—-directly into our own ears. Or we may take a pause and begin to see things for what they truly are when someone verbally attacks or places blame on us. This extends to being loving towards pets and other animals and all human beings.

We can ground through the breath and presence we cultivate through our practice and show kindness to ourselves, and all sentient being in thoughts, words and actions. This creates space for peace and light, rather than building a hot fire of rage.

Students at Centered City Yoga practicing ahimsa with talented teacher, Jason Lawner, and musician, Chris Timmins. PC: Eric Martin

What do you notice in your life has shifted as you stay true to your practice?

Part of what a good yoga practice is meant to teach us is to cultivate ahimsa. What I described above is a taste of ahimsa. This is a Yama, or restraint, which translates to non-violence, non-harming, or with a positive light—-kindness. Ahimsa is one of the five Yamas. These are the ethical, moral and societal guidelines for yogis. Ahimsa \in essence is a practice of non-violence in all aspects of life, from the physical to the mental and emotional.

In our yoga practices, we are taught to show ourselves kindness in a pose, meaning not to force our body into places it is not yet ready to go. This can lead to injuring our bodies. Can we calm any negative self talk or thoughts in practice that are harmful to ourselves, or others. Of course if it comes up, acknowledge it, but draw in deep loving breath along with it. Ask it what it has to say. Be amazed at your ability to transform and let go of that which comes up as an obstacle. Can we consciously cultivate compassion and love instead, and notice how our practice—and life shifts in beautiful ways?

As we cultivate Ahimsa in our practice, we might be challenged both on and off the mat in many ways as life continues to help teach this lesson on many levels. One challenging personal lesson I am working to learn is when someone chooses to project a dark aspect of he or she towards me. Being a quieter human, I have at times taken this on and believed the lies the person placed on me. I then unconsciously started acting with harmful thoughts to my self as I embodied this non-truth. This leads to self-harm as we begin to live in shadows, rather than shining in our light. I have learned that I do not have to allow anyone to harm me by projecting negativity onto me.

Through authentic yoga practice we can learn to recognize that we are all beings of love and light. Please let’s each and all empower ourselves, and all sentient beings, through Ahimsa. The more we cultivate Ahimsa in mind, body and spirit, our practices will naturally shine into greater depth and breadth. The practice of ahimsa will cultivate peace! From Jimi Hendrix:

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

As a yoga community, my wish is for all to cultivate loving kindness and peace. As we continue to collectively cultivate this energy, we will witness more love, harmony and light inside of our precious spaces, beyond our beings and our living and working spaces radiance will be witnessed, as far as we can feel and imagine in our hearts. We are the phoenix rising with love and strength.